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Video:Flapper Music

with Milo De Prieto

The emergence of the Flapper in the 1920s had profound implications for women's rights, and left an indelible impact on music of the era. Learn all about flapper music in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Flapper Music

Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about Flapper music. 

Flapper Music

By the arrival of the 1900s, music was still largely under the influence of the 19th century musical style known as romanticism, with its big orchestras and formal compositions. But advances in musical technology, combined with changing social attitudes, led to the emergence of a new style of music that came to symbolize a way of life. This music was known as jazz and it became immensely popular during the 1920s. 

The Emergence of the Flapper

The end of the First World War brought with it social upheaval. During the war, many women had entered the workforce for the first time, replacing the men who were sent to the frontlines. They began to shake off their Victorian values, and when peace came, the scene was set for this new breed of women to take center stage: a wise-cracking, fun-loving, live-for-today breed of women. 

Although the term “Flapper” had existed previously, often referring to a woman with somewhat loose morals, in 1920, a film was made called “The Flapper,” which depicted the lifestyle of this new type of woman. From this point, the term became synonymous with these fun-loving young women who were engaging in previously unthinkable activities, such as wearing make-up, smoking, drinking and even having casual sex.    

Flapper Style

No longer restricted by tight corsets and long heavy skirts, flappers adopted a more androgynous, boyish look and wore underwear that allowed much greater freedom of movement. Hem lines gradually got higher and hair got shorter, with various styles of short “bobs” replacing the previous long, tied-up styles favored by Victorian and Edwardian women. 

These new fashions, along with the arrival of energetic American jazz music, fit hand-in-hand with new dance styles, the most popular of which were: the Bunny Hug, the Black Bottom, and probably most famous of all, the Charleston. With their bare arms, high-heels and flashes of leg, Flappers continued raising eyebrows in polite society. 

When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 ushered in an era of crippling economic austerity, society no longer had a place for such open displays of frivolity and the Flapper lifestyle quickly faded. However, the changes it represented, in terms of the role of women in society, were nothing short of revolutionary, and the social freedoms gained by women in society in general during the 1920s remained even after the Flapper's demise. 

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